Martin’s date with destiny
The final stone of the final end of the gold medal match in the women’s curling competition was dubbed “The Stone of Destiny” by the British media. As it glided along the ice towards the house, the two rinks, and a packed arena, fell silent knowing that it would decide the destination of the title.
The women who had played the stone was British skip Rhona Martin, who was in many ways an unlikely sort of Olympic star. A 35-year-old housewife from Scotland, she had taken up curling when she was 16 years old and had represented her country in a few events, but had never won a major international title. Indeed, she only won the Scottish championship once, but that victory in 2000 was enough to put her rink on the road to Salt Lake City.
A mother of two, she was not used to being away from her family and promptly suffered a stomach illness on arrival in Utah. She only just recovered in time for the start of the competition, but shrugged off any concerns to lead her rink to some good early results. They were, however, well beaten by the Canadians and only just squeezed into the semi-finals after winning tie-breakers against Sweden and Germany.
That took them into a rematch against Canada, with just about everyone expecting the home favourites to repeat their earlier victory. Instead, stunningly, it was Martin's rink who prevailed, winning a single point in the final end to take a 6-5 victory.
In the final, Martin’s rink faced Switzerland, who had enjoyed their own surprise victory in their semi-final against the USA. Once again it proved a tight, tense affair that went down to the final stone of the final end, and that “Stone of Destiny”.
Perfectly paced, the stone curled gently and glanced off the Swiss stone before stopping in the middle of the house to steal a final point and earn a 4-3 win. Martin and her team-mates were ecstatic. Her winning stone, meanwhile, was taken back to Scotland where it was put on display in a museum.
Martin subsequently led Great Britain to fifth place at the 2006 Games and then retired from competition, taking up a role as a coach.